November 10, 2011
By the ZippyCart Content Team
Japanese ecommerce solution giant Rakuten will be acquiring the Canadian ereading service Kobo from majority shareholder and founder of the service Indigo.
Indigo is Canada’s largest book retailer and founded Kobo in 2009 to compete with Amazon’s and Barnes & Noble’s ereaders. The Kobo ereading platform has a catalog of more than two million ebooks, magazines, and newspapers. The company also currently has two ereaders on the market, the Kobo Touch and Kobo Vox, and Kobo apps are available for a wide variety of iOS, Android, BlackBerry, and Windows devices.
Tokyo-based Rakuten will acquire Kobo for a total of $315 million, the ereading service will continue to operate out of its Canadian headquarters in Toronto and will retain its current management team and employees. Indigo expects to receive approximately $150 million from the sale of its stake in Kobo. The company hopes that Rakuten will provide the necessary investment boost to strengthen Kobo’s standing in the ereader market and expand its customer base. Heather Reisman, CEO of Indigo, had this to say:
“Rakuten will allow Kobo to meet the demands of competing with the very best players in the world. Notwithstanding the sale, Indigo will maintain a very strong relationship with Kobo, supporting the products and the services both in store and online and directly benefiting from the growth of the Canadian ereading market. The success of Kobo confirms that Indigo is a great brand and a strong platform on which we can continue to innovate and grow.”
Rakuten is one of the world’s leading ecommerce solution platforms with more than 10,000 employees throughout Asia, the Americas, and Western Europe. The company has made a series of acquisitions of diverse ecommerce companies over the past two years including Buy.com, the UK’s Play.com, Brazilian company Ikeda, and European PriceMinister. Michael Serbinis, CEO of Kobo, said the following about Rakuten’s acquisition of the ereading service:
“Kobo will continue its aggressive growth trajectory with Rakuten’s support. We look forward to continuing to innovate, provide the best eReading experience for customers, and expand internationally to solidify Kobo’s leadership position in the global eReading market.”
Indigo’s decision to sell its majority share in Kobo comes after they announced a loss of $40.4 million in the second quarter. Sales in Indigo stores were going down while Kobo sales were going up as more people make the transition from hardcovers and paperbacks to ebooks. Indigo still plans to support Kobo after the sale and carry Kobo devices in its stores. The sale to Rakuten is set to close in early 2012.
October 21, 2011
By the ZippyCart Content Team
Three major publishers will soon provide authors with access to book sales data online through new author portals.
Publisher Simon & Schuster announced Wednesday the creation of its author portal that will allow authors and illustrators to see data online about the sales of their published material. Authors will have access to the last six weeks of sales data broken down by different types of booksellers and book formats. There will be data for e-book, paperback, hardcover, and audiobook sales.
Simon & Schuster’s author portal will also feature tools for authors to manage online interactions with readers. In addition, the publisher has released a portal for agents that will provide information similar to that stored on the author site.
Two other major publishers, Random House and the Hachette Book Group, also announced Wednesday that they are in the process of creating ecommerce solutions for authors. Hachette’s author portal will be up and running sometime in 2012; Random House has not publicly announced a date for the launch of their site. A spokesman for Random House said that their author portal will feature marketing tools and other information in addition to sales data.
This marks the first time that major publishers have provided authors with direct access to data about their book sales. Previously it could take months for authors to get information about how well their books were selling and they often would have to go through their agents to get data from a publisher. The new sites should ease some of the tension between authors and publishers regarding the availability of sales information.
Back in December 2010 ecommerce solution Amazon began offering authors access to Nielsen BookScan sales data. Nielsen BookScan provides limited data about print sales of books and, through Amazon’s “Author Central” site, authors can track the past four weeks of a book’s sales. BookScan is estimated to report on approximately 75 percent of print sales and does not track e-book sales. Amazon itself keeps track of e-book sales but currently only reports the figures to publishers and not to authors themselves.
The launch of services allowing authors direct access to sales data about their published material means that authors will be notified much sooner than in the past if their books are not doing well. With timely access to sales figures and information, authors will be better able to address problems and come up with a plan to market their books more effectively and boost shopping cart sales. Some of the additional tools and resources that these new author portals will provide to authors are focused on marketing strategies including the use of social media sites such as Twitter, as well as video promotion through sites like YouTube.
October 19, 2011
By the ZippyCart Content Team
Ecommerce giant Amazon is set to publish 122 books of a variety of genres this fall. By creating their own publishing line, Amazon is removing traditional publishing houses from the process and making their own deals with authors.
Amazon Publishing will act similar to a traditional publisher, completing all of the editing, printing, promoting, and selling. This will make Amazon both a distributor of products and a competitor in the publishing house market, which is bound to create tension with traditional publishing houses.
Their new project is led by successful publisher Lawrence Kirshbaum and has already signed popular author Timothy Ferriss.
Amazon has been breaking into the world of publishing for awhile and already offers self-publishing platform Kindle Direct. Self-publishing platforms are becoming increasingly popular because they allow authors to keep all the rights to their work and retain higher royalties. Other companies like LuLu.com and Barnes and Noble (PubIt) allow authors to publish manuscripts into ebooks. With more and more people adopting iPads, Kindles, and Nooks there is a shift from print to web-publishing.
Web publishing makes it much easier for an author to get their work out to the public. Electronic self-publishing of ebooks has several benefits including, cost, quality, and readiness. Web-publishing has much cheaper costs of entry than traditional publishing, and if a book fails, there are not many costs to recoup. However, traditional publishing requires money upfront to pay distributors and printing costs. Another benefit of electronic publishing is that everything is immediate; the entire publishing cycle is accelerated with ebooks. Authors can make quick edits of an ebook and they also receive payments for their work quickly.
One downfall of self-publishing is the lack of accessible distribution channels and no professional marketing plan; however, with Amazon Publishing both distribution and marketing will be handled as they are with traditional publishers.
Amazon’s entrance into the world of publishing is causing some to fear the prospect of an Amazon monopoly on the book chain. We’ve seen how they shut down brick-and-mortar stores with their cheap new and used books. They have also sparked the abandonment of physical books in favor of digital downloads for ereaders with the Kindle and Kindle Fire. Now they are expanding into the world of publishing and taking authors out of the hands of publishers. What do you think? Is Amazon becoming a monopoly right before our eyes?
September 29, 2011
By the ZippyCart Content Team
These days tablet devices are hot items for the holiday season, here is a roundup of some of the top contenders on the market for the remainder of 2011.
Apple iPad 2
The iPad is currently dominating all other tablet competitors with a 73 percent market share. iPad users get access to millions of songs, TV shows, movies, and other content available through iTunes as well as more than 90,000 apps available from Apple’s App Store. The iPad 2 has the most rugged specs of any tablet on the market with an A5 processor and up to 64GB of internal storage space. The tablet also has built-in front and rear cameras, a nearly 10-inch touchscreen display, and optional 3G functionality.
Apple’s iPad 2 is priced from $499-$799 based on the amount of storage space, 16GB-64GB, and Internet capability, Wi-Fi only or Wi-Fi with 3G. There is no doubt that the iPad is the most versatile and most highly desired tablet on the market. Customers willing to spend a little more for a tablet with high storage space and 3G functionality will think Apple is the way to go when choosing a tablet for their shopping cart this holiday season.
Amazon Kindle Fire
Amazon’s highly anticipated entry into the tablet market, the Kindle Fire, was unveiled Wednesday. Don’t be fooled by the name, the Fire is much more than just an ereader. The tablet allows access to all Amazon content including books, music, movies, TV shows, apps, and games. The current model, shipping November 15, uses Wi-Fi for Internet access and a 3G version has not been announced. A new Fire will come with a free 30-day of Amazon Prime, the subscription that allows access to 11,000 titles of video streaming content and unlimited two-day shipping on all shopping cart orders.
The Fire runs on Android but has a highly customized interface unique to the device. It features a seven-inch touchscreen display with a battery life of up to eight hours for steadily streaming content as well as 8GB of internal storage. There is no camera or microphone built into the device, so no video calls from the Fire. What the Kindle Fire lacks in features, it makes up for with its affordable price, launching at just $199. Users looking for less bang for less buck will likely consider the Kindle Fire, with its access to endless hours of Amazon content, a reasonable choice over Apple’s iPad 2 for their holiday wish lists.
At first glance the BlackBerry Playbook looks a lot like the new Kindle Fire, and there are some definite similarities like the seven-inch touchscreen and Wi-Fi only Internet access. The Playbook also shares some features with the iPad 2 such as built-in front and rear cameras and storage options from 16GB-64GB. The tablet runs on the BlackBerry Tablet OS and has very limited apps available. Research in Motion, the Playbook’s developer, has said that an Android app player will become available for the tablet, allowing access to some Android apps.
The BlackBerry Playbook is available on ecommerce solutions for around $350-$600, depending on the model, but many retailers are slashing the price due to lack of popularity. The Playbook is a nice device for viewing multimedia or browsing the Internet but has very limited access to apps and content. At the current prices, shoppers will most likely bypass this product and opt for the higher utility of the iPad 2 or the affordability of the Kindle Fire.
Barnes & Noble Nook Color
The Nook Color is Barnes & Noble’s tablet and the most upgraded version of the Nook ereader. Like the Kindle Fire, it has a seven-inch touchscreen, 8GB storage, and built-in Wi-Fi. It also has access to Barnes & Noble’s Nookbook store for access to ebooks but doesn’t have the same availability of audio or video content that the Fire or iPad have. The Nook Color only runs its own apps, of which there are less than 1000.
One feature that the tablet has that others don’t is expandable storage in the form of micro SD cards up to 32GB. The Nook Color runs on an Android operating system and uses a customized Android browser. The tablet retails on ecommerce solutions for $249, making it a cheap alternative to an iPad. However, with less functionality and access to multimedia content than its closest competitor in price, the Kindle Fire, it remains to be seen how well the Nook Color does against the competition over the next few months.
Samsung Galaxy Tab 8.9
The Galaxy Tab 8.9 is Samsung’s latest Android tablet running on the Honeycomb OS and is set to ship at the beginning of October. It is similar in size and appearance to Apple’s iPad with an 8.9-inch touchscreen that has plenty of potential for video watching and Web browsing via Wi-Fi. The tablet also allows users access to all of the apps available through the Android Marketplace.
The Galaxy Tab 8.9 has front and back cameras and comes with either 16GB or 32GB of built-in storage as well as expandable storage with an up to 32GB micro SD card. The battery life lasts up to 10 hours of continuous playback time. Samsung’s newest Android tablet will mainly be competing with the iPad for space in shopping carts this holiday season and is priced at $469 and $569 for the 16GB and 32GB models respectively.
September 5, 2011
By the ZippyCart Content Team
The digital age has brought about many changes. Products that were usually only available in stores are available on ecommerce solutions. Items like books and CDs, which were previously only available in physical form, can now be wirelessly downloaded from remote servers and ecommerce software platforms. The retailers who previously sold these now-digital products have had to adapt or die. Even videogames have been impacted, and brick-and-mortar retailers like GameStop have had to step up their online efforts and diversify their holdings in order to remain competitive in the fluid world of the net.
Another market that has been affected by shifts to the digital has been comic books. We’ve covered different comic book ecommerce solutions before, along with which companies have “gone digital” the fastest, and how effective their efforts have been. DC Comics is the latest comic book publisher to make news in the industry, for a couple of reasons.
First off: the big story – “Day and Date Digital.” In case it wasn’t apparent enough by the name, “Day and Date Digital” means that digital comics are available on DC’s ecommerce solution for purchase on the same day that they come out in the comic book stores in printed form. There are several reasons why this is good – for DC, for comics fans, etc.
It represents progress. Information is information. If your ecommerce solution deals in digital products, then you already know this. You have the option of offering your customers hard copies or digital ones. Digital information can be downloaded quickly (almost instantly in many cases) and from almost any location. Tablets are struggling to find a foothold – they are really a “luxury” device: not as hard-working and functional as a laptop, but more useful and full-featured than a smartphone or other handheld device. However, as far as eBooks and other types of online media go, tablets and ereaders (like the Kindle and Nook, among others) are making them increasingly available and increasingly profitable. Amazon’s sales of ebooks on their ecommerce solution have steadily climbed, outpacing hardcover books, then paperbacks, then all books entirely!
DC shifting its digital comics towards full parity with print versions is the natural progression of the publishing world’s increasing integration with the digital. All books (and comics) these days, become digital at some point in their lives, before publication. Offering them for sale digitally at the same time that they are available in print just makes sense. It doesn’t cost anything extra, considering that they are already digital to begin with, and makes them available to a wider audience right away.
Younger readers who haven’t grown up with the nostalgia of printed comics, but who do read media on digital devices (tablets, etc.) may find this an opportunity to jup into the grownup world of comics. Grownups with tablets and other digital gear who want to de-clutter their lives, and stay current with the latest issues of their favorite characters may also take advantage of the new releases.
Last but not least, the news that DC comics new titles will be available in digital form on the same day as their printed editions is conveniently timed with their company-wide “reboot” of their continuity. That’s right – all the classic characters have all new comics, costumes, backstories, but keeping the most important parts of their core characterizations. Who knows how popular this will prove (comic book nerds are notorious for their hatred of change), but one thing is for certain: the “day and date” availability of all new titles on DC’s ecommerce solutions opens doors for the company that have never been opened before (I wonder if they needed a giant golden key).
August 31, 2011
By the ZippyCart Content Team
This school year more than any other, it’s all about textbook rentals. A variety of new options have sprung up in recent months, and they are poised to take advantage of the new school year and the huge numbers of students flocking back to schools who are feeling a bit light in the pocket. With the economy in the shape that it’s in, the rise of lower-cost options, be they brick and mortar stores, ecommerce solutions, or a combination of both, is not surprising.
First on the docket is Follet textbook group. They recently doubled the size of their textbook rental system and rolled out smarter electronic textbooks equipped with their new “CafeScribe” technology. Like most textbook rental services, books rented through Follet are about half the price of buying new, and come with a variety of loan periods. However, unlike a lot of textbook rental ecommerce solutions, Follet has their own network of real world bookstores that they manage in the US and also a lineup of Canadian partners. The expansion of rental services comes at a critical time, says Tom Christopher, President of Follett Higher Education Group:
“Student loans are now the largest category of unsecured debt in America, even surpassing credit cards. To help reduce the costs associated with higher education, we’re focused on delivering a spectrum of affordable choices so every student can be successful in the classroom.”
Having their own stores adds a new wrinkle to the textbook rental game, but it’s one that campus bookstores have been adapting to, even as the tech world seemed to get the drop on them. Campus bookstores have been dying a slow death for years. The rise on ecommerce solutions selling new and used textbooks for anything from literature books to CPA school textbooks at deep discounts was something that the old fashioned stores just could compete with. Now they are getting into the textbook rental game themselves, offering reduced price rentals on the same books that online competitors are pushing. The added convenience of getting these books right from their campus bookstore might be enough to shift some users aware from online ecommerce solutions and back into stores.
Additionally there are mixed-application textbook rental offerings. BookRenter.com, for instance, has their own ecommerce solution that connects students with textbook providers and ships the books out at huge savings. However, BookRenter also has deals in place with a number of campus bookstores where the store serves as the pickup point for the student. Everybody wins: the student saves money and the campus bookstore earns money that they might otherwise have lost. Chegg also has options allowing for bookstore involvement.
Electronic textbooks and temporary electronic textbook rentals are also part of this new frontier in the education world. Follet and Amazon both offer electronic textbook downloads through their ecommerce solutions. Different rates and lengths of time are negotiable, and most textbooks are viewable on a variety of platforms: iOS, Android, tablets, PCs, Macs, cybernetic implant – you name it. Follet’s new “CafeScribe” technology makes it easy for users to highlight passages and take notes. They can also do that with any etextbook rented through Amazon – who also allows them to recall those notes and highlighted passages even once the book has been returned.
Highlighting and making notes in the margins has been a staple of the college textbook game for years. While many people would think that highlighting and writing in rented textbooks is a no-no, BookRenter is finding success in letting their renters do just that. Chegg allows renters to highlight, but not write. Either way, there’s a lot of disruption going on in the textbook world!
August 11, 2011
By the ZippyCart Content Team
To the clouds!
In a move to take back the control of the revenue generated by its best-selling Kindle app, ecommerce giant Amazon has responded to Apple’s controversial subscription rules by simply not playing by them by launching its app to the cloud.
Back in February, Apple unveiled its much-anticipated subscription feature on its iTune’s ecommerce solution, giving digital newspapers, magazines, and other apps an easier way to broaden their iOS user-base and convert them to paying customers. However, the subscription feature came with some rules that, although have now been (somewhat) amended, seems to still be leaving a bad taste in people’s mouths.
Apple gave very little flexibility with their pricing and how app developers and publishers could actually distribute their content. Specifically, Apple demanded sites like Amazon to sell all content within the application on its ecommerce solution at the same or lesser price of what it sold for outside of the application. To add salt to the wound, companies would still have to give an additional 30 percent cut to Apple, while also being directed to remove any ‘buy’ button within the app that would link to the company’s website or external ecommerce solution for purchasing other app products or services.
The 30 percent cut along with the removal of external links makes sense for Apple but it seems that its subscriptions rules are part of a strategy to keep its users in the Cupertino funnel, cutting off other companies from fully profiting from their own product.
However, Amazon has decided to stop playing nice and launched this week its own Kindle Cloud Reader, a web-based app that allows users to read their Kindle ebooks (both on and offline thanks to HTML5) on Safari or Chrome browsers via their PC, tablet, and even iPad, and expects to be compatible with many more devices in the future.
Joining Amazon in this play to take back their own app revenue is Walmart and The Financial Times who have also created their own web-based apps. It seems many other publishers and app devs would naturally go by way of Amazon in the near future, but it is a risky for those who don’t have a big user base to rely on which, Amazon can afford to do. Based on the freedom web-based apps provides to publishers and app devs, we can expect more web-based apps to come, which begs the question, what is holding other big name businesses from now following suit?
August 10, 2011
By the ZippyCart Content Team
It’s that time of year again! Ecommerce solutions
everywhere are coming out with deals to help kids get the best value on their back to school gear. Barnes and Noble has stepped it up by including $100 in free e-books and study guides with both the Nook Color and their standard Nook.
The books that are included are 12 classic titles that most people read in high school: To Kill A Mockingbird, The Great Gatsby, etc. They are also including 12 Spark Notes study guides (I thought the Nook was to to encourage reading?). The purchase doesn’t include $100 of books to your choosing on the ecommerce solution, but it does prevent you from having to go to the library or book store to purchase these required pieces of literature.
Parents are going to love this because for a mere $139 they can give their kids something that will encourage them to read, and hopefully be more fun than reading a traditional paper book. You might miss running your finger over the edges of the pages making them blow that musty paper smell in your face (maybe that’s just me though).
The Nook and Kindle are in a tight race for the e-reader market and it will be interesting to see how Amazon reacts to this hard-to-resist deal…or maybe they won’t. Nobody really knows how the Kindle is doing versus the Nook because Amazon will not release any sales figures. Could it be because they don’t want to rub in how much they’re dominating, or is it because they’re not doing so hot?
The Nook Color has been portrayed as something more than an e-reader which might drive more people to start purchasing it. Running Android makes it more than just a platform to read books on. Do a couple tweaks and you’re surfing the net and downloading apps for around $200.
The Kindle is synonymous with the word e-reader, but Barnes and Noble is stepping up their game with this new $100 in free books offering. Maybe the ecommerce solution giant, Amazon, will offer a deal similar to this in a couple weeks. Oh the consumer-benefits of heavy market competition.
July 25, 2011
By the ZippyCart Content Team
The Japanese have a unique ereader/tablet to put in their shopping carts starting late last week. The Raboo (short for RAkuten BOOks, after the country’s biggest ecommerce company) started selling overseas and has a lot of people talking. The Panasonic product will roll out with immediate access to 10,000 books in Rakuten’s online books clearing house, which users will be able to seamlessly slide into their virtual shopping carts and access at their leisure using the sleek combo device.
Originally revealed a couple of weeks ago at an ebook expo in Tokyo, the Raboo tries to blend the seemingly incompatible worlds of tablets and ereaders (not unlike what the Nook Color seems to have been able to do). It runs Android 2.2 with a little over 4 gigs of memory and comes with 16 apps preloaded, but no access to the Android Marketplace to pick up new apps (that could change if they ever decide to release it in the states). That’s right – there’s no US or international release date, so don’t start thinking about thwn you’ll be able to put it in your shopping cart here in the US.
Bridging the ereader-tablet divide is a big challenge for any company, and could be the key to success for some lucky tech company. So far the most popular ebook reading device is the laptop computer. With the prevalence of ebook reading apps (including the Kindle web apps, which allows anyone to read any Kindle ebook on any web-connected device) people have more electronic reading options than ever before. But do they want to read digital books (or magazines or newspapers)?
That seems to be one essential question of the ereader dilemma. Do people think that they need an ereader? While we’re at it, do they think that they need a tablet computer? To some degree, these devices create their own niche by their very existence. Until Apple rolled out a high-powered, well-designed tablet in the form of the iPad (remember how long ago that was?), most consumers didn’t even know that they wanted/needed a tablet. Until Amazon was first to market with their highly functional, highly publicized ereader (with comprehensive ebook sales support systems already in place and an eye for disrupting the publishing world), most people didn’t know that they wanted/needed an ereader.
However, neither of these flagship devices was the first of its kind and a fleet of copycats (predecessors and latecomers) have made their presences known. Amazon is reportedly gearing up to deploy their own line of tablets and cell phones (which will no doubt come with Kindle integration) that will us Android as their OS. Apple, on the other hand, continues to carve out and defend their niche in the face of vigorous competition. People are still putting Kindles, iPads, and tablets of all kinds in their shopping carts. Who knows where all this competition will ultimately take the tech world? One thing’s for sure: without more disposable income for the middle and lower classes, all these tech marvels are going to have difficulty finding buyers.
July 22, 2011
By the ZippyCart Content Team
The face of publishing, printing, writing, and distributing the written word is changing. It’s been changing for years. The introduction of the internet was a massive disruption of the usual publishing system. For decades (centuries?) the gates of the publishing world were tightly locked and closely monitored. Independent presses popped up here and there, publishing fringe writers and artists and helping them get their message out and their books into shopping carts. Then the internet allowed any maniac with a Geocities account to post anything that they wanted to the internet and have other people read it. Next e-zines sprung up, paralleling the ‘zine movement of the 80s to today where low-to-the-ground publishers printed and distributed low-quality, stapled-together pages of content.
Now Amazon has added a layer of legitimacy by offering several different self-publishing avenues, including “Kindle Singles” and various self-serve options that have even led to the first ever million-selling independent writer on Amazon. John Locke managed to get over a million readers to put his mystery novel into their online shopping carts. Him and other writers like him have proven that there is life after the publishing machine is reduced to dust.
However, some types of publishing were/are much slower to change and evolve. Textbooks being one of them. Deeply mired in an academic and commercial relationship that can only be described as incest, publishers relied heavily on colleges mandating purchase of their newest books, deals with professors, and lunches with industry reps, paid for by the companies. Only recently have we seen textbooks even making the transition to ebook format. If we as a country can ever get this debt thing under control, get more disposable into the middle and lower classes (doubtful) and get every school kid and college student a tablet, we might truly see a shift towards more comprehensive e-textbook adoption.
Amazon is helping push e-textbooks forward a little at a time. Starting this fall they say, tens of thousands of textbooks will be available to rent via their Kindle devices and apps. With the recent price reductions and special offers on Kindles, it’s easier than ever for anyone to put on in their shopping cart.
The textbook rentals could (eventually) offer significant savings over purchasing textbooks, even given the return (however small) that students usually get from selling their books back at the end of the semester. The major drawback in Amazon’s current rental system is that it’s month-to-month and doesn’t offer super-huge savings now (an intermediate accounting book costing $109.20 to buy, can be rented starting at $38.29 – how long is that?). As the program expands, expect to see greater cost savings and “semester” plans.
Meanwhile, on the subject of another dying medium, newspapers might be getting some help from the Kindle as well. As more and more people drop their regular print newspaper subscriptions and stop putting them in their shopping carts at brick and mortar stores (or stopping by their local newsstand or gas station), news readers have turned to other sources for their daily info fix.
One source is the Kindle’s New York Time’s subscription service, which currently boasts 57,000 subscribers. Now that the Times has erected a pay wall, many subcribers with Kindles may be thinking: “well, I’m going to pay for this content one way or another, I might as well get all my money’s worth.”
Either way, more subscribers (in any form) means more revenue that newspapers can count on. Subscribers were and still are the main determiner a newspaper uses to decide how solvent they will be for the future. If numbers continue to grow we could see a new era of prosperity for the Old Grey Lady (and all those other newspapers whose nicknames I don’t know!).
July 21, 2011
By the ZippyCart Content Team
Harry Potter mania has reached fever pitch since the last installment of the movie’s franchise “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2” debuted at a record breaking $168 million weekend, but no one in the wizarding or muggle world is complaining about this phenomenon (except maybe for those fellows in Twilight).
What's your patronus?
The last movie has lead many Potter fans to feel like this is an end of an era, however keep your magical chins up because as ZippyCart revealed last month, J.K. Rowling’s highly anticipated (and still quite elusive) Pottermore promises to keep the story alive through an interactive website set to launch this October.
Now more details have surfaced about what fans can expect on Pottermore and it looks like the site will be integrating various Google products and APIs to enhance its ecommerce functionality. As the Potter series are set to be sold as ebooks, a move that the famed author has admitted in the past she had little interest in, Rowling has decidedly to skip a traditional publisher for the Potter ebooks and will self-publish the series on the Google eBooks open platform.
If there is ever a time to monetize on the full speed momentum the Harry Potter gravy train is riding on, it would be now.
Harry Potter ebooks will be sold exclusively on Pottermore using Google’s third party ecommerce software platform dubbed Google Checkout. eBook buyers can choose to store their digital Harry Potter book on the cloud with Google Books, as well as on other ereading platforms. The price of the books will be released closer to launch.
The new Google partnership will also have Google Checkout the main ecommerce software platform for the Pottermore Shop and will be used for any additional items fans want to put in their shopping carts.
In addition, Pottermore will use YouTube for future global video broadcasts, similar to the video Rowling made in June when she first announced the existence of Pottermore.
Pottermore will be allowing a select few who have registered on the site early access to experience the interactive online world Rowling dreamed up before the rest of the public does later in the fall. The bewitching hour is set for July 31, as the site invites users to return that day to find out if they are one of the lucky few who gets to unlock the doors to Pottermore’s dreamland. However, there still seems to be a catch involved that no one has figured out just yet, until then J.K. Rowling hints that if fans want to gain early access they just have to “follow the owl.”
July 20, 2011
By the ZippyCart Content Team
The online document sharing and reading platform, Scribd, has come out with something completely new. The new brand is called “Float.” This is Scribd’s first iPhone application, and is a one-stop place to read newspapers, PDF’s, magazines, etc. You won’t have to go to the iTunes ecommerce solution
anymore to get different magazines and news publications. It’s all in one place.
This may seem similar to Apple’s new iOS 5 feature “Newsstand.” You could say it’s close, but it’s much easier, and it’s social! (Isn’t everything today, though?) The app integrates your social networks so that you can easily share stories from the application and see what your friends are currently reading.
The application is tightly integrated into your Scribd account so that all of your online documents are still right there. The content on the application is all optimized for mobile reading and there aren’t any advertisements (yet).
You might be wondering how this company is going to make money. Well, they don’t charge through an ecommerce solution, but as you know well, there are many other ways to monetize an app. The application plans to integrate advertisements into the free version of the app, but they want to make sure they’re not too intrusive. Another more ambitious plan is to make it “the Netflix of reading.”
No, that doesn’t mean they’re going to raise their prices for services that they already offer, but it does mean that they will charge something. The publications need money from the company, and in order for them to pay for it, the user must as well. The application hopes to have a one-time fee for unlimited use, just like Netflix .
It’s hard enough for an ecommerce solution to get the customer to type in that dreaded (or loved) number on that little plastic card that has put so many people in debt. What would be even more difficult for Float to do would be to charge for each individual publication! That’s not an option they said. Instead, they plan to have a monthly charge for unlimited access – which is a lot easier to swallow.
The application is called Float because of the way you navigate through the reading. You can scroll through the continuous document by swiping up or down, or if you want to see a whole new page you can swipe right or left. Scribd hopes to make Float your number one stop for reading and to see what your friends are reading.
July 15, 2011
By the ZippyCart Content Team
Prepare yourselves for yet another iPad challenger! Amazon, the online retail giant behind the popular Kindle ereader, has announced an October release for their tablet. The tablet, which will run on an unannounced version of Android, will sport a 10 inch screen. The device is being referred to as “the super Kindle”.
Amazon recognizes the need for a lower priced tablet option, and admits that in order to compete with the iPad, the “super Kindle” will have to be just as functional but less expensive than the cheapest $499 iPad. Recent attempts by other companies at shaking Apple’s domination of the tablet industry have elicited mild responses from consumers. Sales of Motorola’s XOOM tablet have been less than expected. Blackberry’s PlayBook has seen such lackluster sales figures that a RIM employee felt it necessary to write an anonymous complaint to the CEO of the company. Meanwhile, the iPad has sold more than 50 million units worldwide.
But Amazon is a direct competitor with Apple, unlike RIM and Motorola. Amazon is the only Apple rival that offers a large online MP3 music outlet, an online music player, TV and movie rentals and purchases, e-books, the Appstore for Android, and cloud storage options like Apple’s forthcoming iCloud. Amazon is hoping to capitalize on its established Kindle market and get consumers to add the “super Kindle” to their shopping cart by the holiday season.
Amazon’s plan is to outsource the design and production of the first “super Kindle” to iPad and iPhone manufacturer Foxconn. For the next three months, the priority is getting an Amazon-branded tablet in customers shopping carts as soon as possible. The initial Amazon tablet will be followed later by a more refined version that Amazon will design in-house.
Analysts anticipate the Amazon tablet will face harsher challenges than its older brother, the Kindle. Amazon has had impressive success with getting the Kindle into consumer shopping carts, but analysts warn that tablet market is an animal of a different color. Apple has already dug itself in as the big man on campus. But Amazon has proven that it’s not to be messed with, and this battle will get more interesting come October.
July 12, 2011
By the ZippyCart Content Team
Amazon wasn’t first to market with their Kindle eReader, but they were certainly innovators in terms of how well they marketed it. They also placed a lot of emphasis on changing the way things were done in the publishing world. Their efforts have worked so well that people are putting more ebooks into their online shopping carts than physical books. However, not as many people are putting Kindles into those same shopping carts.
Research organization IDC just announced that for Quarter 1, the more fully-functional Nook Color outsold the e-ink only Kindle. There are a number of reasons why this could have been. For starters, the Nook Color’s Android-powered systems include a web browser. This is a big draw for people who want to read ebooks on a portable ereader-like device, but also want tablet functionality. The Nook Color straddles the line between tablet and ereader in a way that the Kindle doesn’t. People who want a tablet but can’t throw down the cash for the real deal like the iPad 2 can get buy by putting the Nook Color into their shopping carts.
Kindle’s huge market penetration and name recognition were long thought to limit the threat from newcomers. Especially when combined with the huge Amazon ebook market. However, the widespread availability of Kindle apps (for Android phones as well as laptops and computers) allows people to put Amazon ebooks in their online shopping carts without having to shell out for a Kindle. This flexibility allows them to sell more books but may be hurting their ereader sales. Maybe they can turn this trend around in the coming months with their reportedly-forthcoming line of Android tablets and cell phones.
The Nook Color’s broader functionality and full-color screen may be more of a draw than the much demonized “glare” is a drawback. See, whenever a color ereader gets trotted out, Amazon and all the other e-ink ereaders tout how bad the glare will be, then talk about how easy it is to read e-ink in the sun. But again, the fact that the Nook Color bridges that ereader-tablet divide may be what’s driving people to buy them up in greater numbers.
It could also have something to do with the fact that while Amazon.com is one of the world’s leading ecommerce solutions, it doesn’t have any brick and mortar locations. Barnes and Noble, on the other hand has numerous real world stores in some of the largest urban markets in the world. The more frequently people walk past advertisements for Nooks of all kinds and are exposed to the idea, the more familiar and comfortable they become with the idea of buying ebooks and ereaders from the same place that they bought their real books from in the past.